AM: let the chickens out, feed them (with layers pellet or mash), check grit, change their water and check for eggs. Clean out the chicken houses if necessary. Dust with mite powder (red mite is a potentially deadly pest and can kill a full grown hen) and replace straw.
PM: check eggs ( essential if not done in morning) and feed chickens (with a handfull of grain) or (a top up of mash or pellets).
At dusk (or the earliest when the chickens go to bed) close their houses and count them.
CHICKENS MONTH BY MONTH
If you are purchasing more chickens, now is the time to consider the breed you would like. Why do you want them? Eggs? For showing? Just for appearance? rare and traditional breeds often produce all these traits in one.
If you are purchasing more birds, you need to select a suitable house, with dark nestboxes, suitable perches, good ventilation and it must be large enough to accommodate all the bird comfortably.
Now is the perfect time to acquire your youngsters. Take a look all around the yard /farm /paddock where the birds are kept.
Do they look stressed? Have they got pale faces? Is the environment suitable?
If you think any hens look in poor condition do not go ahead with the purchase. If they all look good, you can make further considerations.
Make sure your new birds travel properly, make sure they don’t get stressed. This involves using suitable transport cages. Food and water should also be on offer, and overly long journeys should be avoided.
It is important to supply good food to boost summer production. Feed layers pellets, or mash and give grit. Greens are also important, they supply vitamins and minerals and cause egg yolk to be a rich yellow. Corn can be fed as a treat but do not overfeed as it can lead to overweight birds.
During the summer it is extra important that your hens have lots of clean fresh water AT ALL TIMES
During a hot summer hens can become overheated. Symptoms include panting, increased drinking, listlessness and lying on the ground panting.
If a chicken becomes overheated splash cold water on his or her comb and under his or her wings.
Look out for red mite (should be done at every time of the year) if you notice these grey (red after their first meal) pests then you need to buy red mite powder or spray A.S.A.P as these mites can kill a fully grown hen (luckily I have never experienced this through routine dusting of the hens, and the house.
Now the chickens are moulting, and replacing the old feathers with new winter ones. It is worth adding Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) to their feed or water to give them a vitamin and mineral boost. This will help them stay healthy during moulting, which puts lots of strain on the bird.
If point of lay hens are still not laying they will begin in spring, or late autumn.
Reddening combs and wattles are signs to look out for when a hen is due to start laying.
Now is the time to prepare for winter using a suitable bedding as litter for the paddock, because otherwise you and your chickens will be squelching in the mud! Shavings are absorbent but messy, straw is even easier and does not absorb well, hemp is expensive and hard to find, but absorbent and it deodorises .
December and January
You may need extra warmth in the house, and ice needs cracking twice a day.
Keep feeding grit.
Throughout the year remember to close in the hens every night and count them. Check all ends of the hen house.
When I was a young girl, aged about six my job was to put the hens in and let them out, but eventually my dad started double checking because I once closed the front of the house, while leaving the back open and in the morning one hen was dead in the garden, one had been deposited in front of the door and the last had lost its head but was still half alive, and walked around with only a bloody, bent neck.
That taught me a valuable lesson.